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Single visa for Africa under spotlight as KAZA visa gets new lease of life

Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana has chosen the festive period to resume the issuing of their UniVisa, better knows as the KAZA Visa – a single visa regime issued at the airports of Harare, Lusaka or Gaborone.

The breakthrough comes at a time when the outgoing chairperson of the African Union (AU), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has called for a Visa on arrival for all Africans in all African countries.

The recent signing of the agreement between Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana should promote tourism to the three countries who shares a wealth of culture and heritage and common transboundary conservation areas, which can now be visited by foreign tourists under the single visa regime. It is expected to provide an incentive for foreign tourists to visit more than just one of the countries in the region, helping boost visitor numbers to the parks and key attractions like the Victoria Falls.

In the light of Dlamini-Zuma’s call Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Swaziland and even South Africa are expected to join the KAZA UniVisa as soon as practically possible opening up a large part of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) for foreign tourists.

The Team Africa (TTA), an organisation promoting travel within Africa by African and the Pan African Travel Association has long called for the implementation of a visa on arrival for all Africans. The AU is now actively supporting these views by urging all member states to introduce a 30-day visa on arrival policy for all citizens from fellow African countries.

The Pan African Travel Association had earlier commended the Union’s efforts in bringing about seamless travels within Africa for Africans, through the launch of the African passport at its summit in Kigali in July 2016 to encourage free movement for Africans within the continent.

Dlamini-Zuma recently, during her ‘State of the Union’ address in Durban, South Africa, said a visa-on-arrival system will facilitate intra-Africa trade, business and investment among African countries. She used Rwanda as example who, as a result of implementing Africa’s most liberal migration policy, has enjoyed a 24% rise in tourism from African countries and a 50% rise in trade with neighbouring countries, including a 73% rise in trade with the DRC.

“In order to facilitate intra-Africa trade, business and investment – both small and large – the AU decision was taken in January 2016 to encourage all member states to introduce a 30-day visa on arrival policy for all citizens from fellow African countries, to launch the African passport in 2016 and to adopt a comprehensive Protocol on Free movement of People by 2018,” she urged.

The first form of the KAZA Visa between Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana was used in August 2013 when Zimbabwe and Zambia jointly hosted the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly meeting allowing attendees to cross the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia at the Victoria Falls with ease.

In East Africa a similar visa is operational between Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya where tourists may apply – at port of entry – for a common tourist visa.

Studies by the AU indicate that the potential impact of the extension of the African passports across African nations estimates that it could increase travel in the continent by 24% and revenues from tourism by 20%.